The Rock Island Engineer District announced to employees and stakeholders that some of its civil works missions will be transferred to the Chicago Engineer District.
The operations of T.J. O’Brien and Lockport Locks will come under the jurisdiction of the Chicago District, along with missions related to the Kankakee River watershed in Illinois and the Fox River watershed in Wisconsin and Illinois.
The Illinois Waterway is the only waterway shared not only between Corps districts, but between divisions. The Chicago District maintains only one lock now, the Chicago Harbor lock. The move will place those sites under the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division.
The announcement came in an email from Allen Marshall, chief of corporate communications of the Rock Island District. It said the move was part of an “effort to sustain healthy workloads across all [Corps] districts.” The decision was reportedly taken after an internal Corps leadership summit meeting.
“The planning and implementation of these realignments are under evaluation and timelines related to implementation will be communicated as those timelines become [clearer],” according to the email. “Both the Rock Island District and the Chicago District will work closely together to ensure an enduring mission and maintain expertise and competency across district boundaries. Meanwhile, the Rock Island District will remain transparent throughout the realignment process, keeping in close communication with stakeholders and partners.”
Navigation industry sources told The Waterways Journal they have been assured that the change-over would not interfere with the planned closures of Illinois River locks and dams in 2020 for scheduled maintenance and repair.